On this week’s episode of Mamamia Out Loud, Mia Freedman, Monique Bowley and I were faced with a hairy parenting dilemma.
I have a hairy problem. Quite literally. It’s a problem about pubic hair. You see, I don’t have any because I’ve had laser and it’s all gone. This was never a problem until recently. I’m in my early 30s and lots of my friends don’t have it anymore either. We got rid of it in our 20s when it seemed like bald was best and why not remove it permanently.
A couple of years ago I started a relationship with a single dad. He has twin daughters and a son and the children’s mother is not in their lives. I adore the kids and they look to me as a mother.
The girls are now 10 years old and much to my surprise they have begun to hit puberty. I didn’t go through puberty until I was about 13 so I was surprised to notice they had started developing pubic hair recently.
LISTEN: Mia Freedman, Monique Bowley and I discuss our listener’s dilemma on the most recent episode of Mamamia Out Loud. Post continues below.
We’re a pretty relaxed house and we’re all comfortable with nudity and so the girls often see me in the shower.
Recently I can tell that they’ve noticed that I have no pubic hair and they do… which is obviously the opposite of what most mother-daughters have in the household.
What should I do? What do I tell them? I want them to feel comfortable with their bodies and that includes the hairy parts of it. I’ve talked to their father about it but he has no idea what I should say and I feel like I don’t want to get this wrong. It’s so important. None of my friends have kids who have reached puberty so it’s not something they’ve had to deal with.
Do you have any advice? I want to make sure I’m helping to raise little feminists. But there’s nothing I can do to bring back my pubic hair! How do I make them feel OK about their’s?
Firstly, you’re right. There is no way to bring back your pubic hair. Well… maybe if you wear a pubic wig. Or draw your pubic hair on with a thin tipped sharpie, but I think that might end up confusing your step-daughters far, far more. I absolutely do not recommend that.
What we need to remember as women, is that we engage in countless social practices that undermine or 'enhance' our natural body.
We might have our ears pierced. Or shave our legs. Or paint our toe nails. Or dye our hair. Or wear make up. Or pluck our eyebrows. Or whiten our teeth. Or lather ourselves in fake tan.
None of these make us a bad person or an inadequate role model. They are just the realities of living in a society that rewards women for engaging in 'feminine' behaviour. We are taught from infancy that our value as a woman is very much indexed on how we look, and so it's no wonder we invest a great deal of time and energy into personal grooming.
But when it comes to our daughters, we have a responsibility to use these practices as teaching moments. Beginning with your pubic hair.
Wait until it comes up or they explicitly ask you, which, inevitably, they will. And then you just have one job: be honest.
Tell them why you decided to do it, whatever the reason. Tell them that all grown women have pubic hair, and when they're adults, they are free to choose what to do with it. Tell them their bodies are completely normal.
Have a discussion with them about why removing all traces of pubic hair is a trend. Some women prefer having none, but also it's a result of the rise in pornography.
Let them know that removing pubic hair can be painful and expensive. In fact, having no pubic hair has been linked to a greater risk of STIs.
These are conversations you want to have with your step-daughters. And they are unspeakably lucky to have a mother-figure in their lives who cares so much about their well being and body confidence.
You can listen to the full episode of Mamamia Out Loud, here.